The availability of Chinese lines of credit for African investments in urban housing and infrastructure has grown significantly and has become a major influence shaping the growth of African cities today. In Angola alone, Chinese-Angolan economic cooperation is estimated to be about US$25 billion over the last decade, and much of Angola’s post-war reconstruction has been financed by Chinese credit lines. Angola is China’s principal African trading partner accounting for 25% of China’s African commerce.
Chinese involvement in real estate across the continent has reached a significant scale. As this investment grows, opportunities should be created to ensure that the needs of the urban poor for for housing and infrastructure are adequately addressed. Real estate investments in the higher-income housing projects have in recent years been over-subscribed and, even in Africa, there are risks of market bubbles.
For those living further down the economic pyramid, housing demands have been neglected because there are fewer attractive opportunities for large-scale investment. Innovative but proven African solutions to serviced land development, housing microfinance and urban upgrading offer private and public investors the opportunity to participate in the large-scale transformation of African cities.
The Africa-China Urban Initiative will provide a detailed overview of the extent of Chinese involvement in urban, residential development in Africa, and use this knowledge to empower both Chinese and African players to pursue viable investment opportunities on a sustainable basis into the future. By documenting and tracking investment levels and key investment initiatives, it becomes possible to understand both the opportunities and challenges associated with these investments, and to direct them towards pro-poor objectives.